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Law: QuickStart Guide

This guide is intended to serve as a starting point for finding legal information and is intended for public library users and librarians.

Basic Legal Skills

Read an overview of how to approach legal research,  find guides and web resources to get started.  Links for definitions are also in a separate box in the right column.

Using Free Legal Websites

Quick help in finding the legal website you need to begin your research.  Be sure to click on topical blue tabs above, too.

Civics 101

Books on Legal Research

Public Law Libraries

Do you know that there are law libraries and libraries with substantial law collections and government documents which serve the public? You can even apply (in person) for a library card from The Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries!  Databases are available, too. GET AN E-CARD FOR REMOTE ACCESS TO SOME OF THEIR DATABASES,  or visit one of their 17 locations and use Westlaw and Lexis/Nexis at one of their  library computers.  With a Trial Court  library card, if you are a Massachusetts resident, you will be able to use FastCase, Nolo Law Books, and RetrieveLaw databases remotely.

Evening Hours! Since January 25, 2014: Fitchburg Law Library has moved to the Fitchburg Public Library and can now offer evening hours!  The telephone number is 978-345-6726.  A  professional law librarian is available Mondays and Wednesdays from noon-8pm, and Fridays from 10a.m.-5pm.  Other times experienced staff will try to answer the question, or direct to the Worcester Law Library's professional law librarians.

Teachers' Resources

Useful Books

The Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries circulate from their own collection, often including reference books if they own a second set.  Borrowers must apply in person for a Trial Court Law Library card at one of the 17 Trial Court Law Libraries and observe their Circulation Policy.  Read through their information in advance of your visit.  http://www.lawlib.state.ma.us/libraries/services/circulation.html

Self Help Reference Guide

Legal Portal

One stop for your legal searches.

Online Legal Dictionary

Understanding legal terminology is a click away; however cross-reference by topic.  There may be recent legislation or case law affecting a definition which may not be reflected yet in an online dictionary. 

Today's Featured Definitions: Grand Jury and Indictment

http://dictionary.law.com/Default.aspx?selected=828

http://dictionary.law.com/Default.aspx?selected=943

Citation Websites: Writing & Reading Legal Citations

Follow the legal style manual formats for legal caes, statutes, articles, books, reports, online resources and more.

348.734 B62C 2010

Legal Citation Books

Law students compiled these guides to reading legal citations.

Condensed Legal Terms and Abbreviations

What exactly does "the law" mean?  Keep this shortened and printable list handy as you read terms and citations while researching your legal issue.

Government Publications

Document Delivery Service

Need a document? a case, legislation, regulation, legal form? Fill out a request form, and pending availability and any restrictions the document will be delivered to you by means you have selected, during their library hours, approximately 8am-4pm, depending upon location.